“With the exception of our heirloom tomatoes, Southern Specialties imports a wide range of products from Central America and South America, Canada and Mexico,” Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for the Pompano Beach, FL-based company told The Produce News. “Our line includes ‘Southern Selects’ French beans, green and white asparagus, hand-peeled Brussels sprouts, hand-peeled baby carrots with tops, hand-peeled rainbow baby carrots with tops, sugar snap peas, snow peas, yellow beans, baby squash and limes.”
Mr. Eagle said that Southern Specialties has specialized in offshore production since it began in business in 1990.
He said that when a company grows, imports and processes the broad spectrum of products, it’s imperative to be as vertically integrated as possible.
“Southern Specialties has become experts in logistics, brokerage and post-harvest handling of all of our products,” said Mr. Eagle. “This is integral in providing our customers with the best possible product, delivery and overall service. And we strive to provide year-round sourcing on all of the products that we offer.”
Mr. Eagle said that the company is fortunate this year to have had good weather during the growing season in all regions and on the majority of its products, which are sold throughout the United States and into Canada.
“We have national and Canadian coverage and distribution through our offices in Pompano, McAllen [TX] and Los Angeles,” said Mr. Eagle. “We service foodservice distributors, club stores and wholesalers.”
Southern Specialties was founded in 1990 by Robert Colescott. Previously Mr. Colescott was an associate in a Pompano Beach company responsible for pioneering the import of specialty fruits and vegetables from Central America. Upon his employer’s retirement, he started his own company. Today Southern Specialties is a completely integrated grower, importer, processer, marketer and shipper of a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
Besides growing in Guatemala and numerous other regions in Central America and South America, the company is one of the larger grower-importers of asparagus from Peru.
“We also import asparagus from Mexico,” said Mr. Eagle. “We handle green, purple and white asparagus. Peruvian asparagus slows down seasonally, so we’re able to keep supplies moving by utilizing growers from both regions.”
Mr. Eagle explained that every year Mexico comes on strong, and Peruvian growers start to close fields in anticipation of strong Mexican supply.
Southern Specialites’ French bean programs offer the gourmet specialty item in a variety of packs ideally suited for foodservice, retailers and club stores. The company pioneered growing French beans in Guatemala and continues to offer product from that country as well as from Mexico.
“Guatemala is also recognized as a major source for high-quality snow peas and sugar snap peas, which Southern Specialties also grows and imports,” Mr. Eagle added. “We also offer a tropical fruit line, and we handle berries from most growing regions in South America and Central America.
“Our blueberry program starts in Argentina and then moves to all other growing regions, including Florida, for full year-round supplies,” he continued. “Besides Guatemala, we also produce blackberries in Mexico.”
Many of the specialty products that Southern Specialties grows are packed in microwavable packaging and carry the “Southern Selects” label.
Southern Specialties also has a significant Guatemalan lime deal that includes Rain Forest Alliance-certified limes, as well as blackberries and other fruits.